Language in International Business
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Language in International Business

The Multilingual Reality of Global Business Expansion

Rebecca Piekkari, Denice E. Welch and Lawrence S. Welch

Language matters in international business and global business expansion inevitably mean encountering challenges of communication, language and translation. This book presents a thorough and rigorous analysis of language related to all aspects of global business – international management, networks, HRM, international marketing, strategy and foreign operations modes.
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Chapter 8: Language and foreign operation modes

Rebecca Piekkari, Denice E. Welch and Lawrence S. Welch


Internationalizing firms use a variety of modes or methods when operating in foreign markets. These include exporting; contract-based operations; and different forms of foreign direct investment (FDI) that involve the establishment, or acquisition, of a firm in the target foreign market, perhaps in partnership with a local company and/or another foreign firm. At first glance, an obvious question is: what has this to do with language? In this chapter we show how there is a surprisingly intimate connection between language and the ways in which companies carry out their foreign operations. This connection runs in both directions. The type of mode or mode combination chosen, and the way it is put into practice, affects the nature of language demands created for the firm; and, in reverse, there are also situations where language influences the type of modes chosen and used in the foreign market (see Figure 8.1). The type of foreign operation mode used by a company has a major influence on management, and contact activities involving the internationalizing firm and various entities in the foreign market. As Welch et al. (2007, 5) point out, ‘the nature and character of the management process, including aspects like control, coordination and staffing, are driven by the type of foreign operation’.

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